One of the most difficult problems in current computer animation is modeling human motion. It is much easier to simulate a flying corporate logo, for example, than to create a simulation of realistic human movement. As a highly articulated and non linear system, the body has yet to yield its secrets fully to computer algorithms. To solve the problem, Robert Abel and his associates marked position points on a human model's body and filmed her while she went through a series of exactly choreographed motions. They then analyzed the film using a computer, creating a data base that provided the basis for the female robot simulation. The juxtaposition of the materially present human model (left) with the simulacrum of the female robot from the computer animated sequence "Brilliance" (right) illustrates the transformations that takes place as the body is translated from a material substrate into pure information. The sequence shows the female robot manipulating objects on a dining table with a facility that is possible only because they have lost their materiality, as she herself has also. (Used with permission from Robert Abel, President of Synapse Technologies, Inc.)
Also of interest are the transformations that allowed this illustration to appear in a print text. The images were published on a video laser disk entitled "Computer Dreams: Volume 1" (Voyager Company, Los Angeles, CA, 1989). Lacking state-of-the-art equipment that would transfer the image directly from the laser disk to computer diskette to computerized typesetting (a series of exchanges that eliminates print text altogether), October requested that the illustrations be submitted as negatives. Because UCLA also lacks the state-of-the-art equipment that could interface an internal camera directly with the computer code, the video capture was done by taking long-exposure photographs of frames on a high resolution monitor. Such hybrid splices are typical of this transition era. In a few months or weeks, the exchanges will be entirely electronic and the resistance of materiality (having to set up a camera on a tripod in a darkened room, for example) will diminish close to zero.